The opening season doubles are falling into place.
USC has agreed to host Auburn in December.
Here’s Arizona dating Indiana in Las Vegas.
UCLA is on hand to finalize the trip to Maryland.
Here is the state of Arizona, taking on SMU in Dallas.
In college basketball, the off-season stands for NBA draft decisions, transfer portal moves, and non-conference scheduling—three interconnected elements that test head coaches’ understanding and set the stage for the upcoming season.
Poor scheduling decisions in the spring can affect performance in the fall, which, in turn, affects the outlook for Selection Sunday.
The Pac-12 fielded just three teams in the 2022 NCAA Tournament—an average bid total that has become standard fare: The conference also sent just three teams to the ’18 and ’19 tournaments.
“I’ve seen a statistic about the percentage of teams that each Power Five conference advanced to Sweet 16 relative to the number of berths for each conference,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle told Hotline.
“It was very positive for the Pac-12. As a conference, we show very well. The challenge is how do we consistently get more teams involved.”
The tournament selection committee gathers in Indianapolis over the second weekend of March to expand bids and create a 68-team field. Decisions are guided by advanced metrics (for example, net rankings) that weigh the results of non-conference games.
Success creates a multiplier effect that elevates mid-tier teams during their respective nature of conference play.
At the same time, early-season failure creates a permanent sinkhole that swallows up teams and leaves only the best positioned for NCAA bids.
– Four times in the past 10 years, the Pac-12 has won at least 70 percent of its non-conference games; Each time, it received four or more NCAA Tournament bids.
– Six times in the past 10 years, the Pac-12 won less than 70 percent of its non-conference games; Each time, it got two or three NCAA bids.
“The whole key to the Pac-12 is that we have to do well in November and December,” Boyle said.
“It’s about being realistic about what your team is going to look like. It just got a lot more difficult.”
For decades, coaches had one consideration when projecting roster strengths: NBA draft decisions. He only affected a few players – and on some teams, none at all.
But the transfer portal has created an extended free agency period that could affect half the roster and comes with scheduling decisions as well.
Coaches don’t know who is staying, who is going or who is coming.
Wait too long to line up quality opponents and options may be limited.
Commit to premium matchups too early and attrition can overmatch you.
“If you’re trying to build a culture and set up a successful schedule, you may want to do a lighter schedule because you need wins to get people to see that you’re growing,” UCLA athletic director Martin Germond, a member of the NCAA selection committee.
“But if your goal is the NCAA Tournament, it’s a different situation.
“I told the (Pac-12) head coaches that it’s about who you play, where you play and how you do. From what I learned living in the (committee) room, hard scheduling increases your chances. You are not punished for playing. ,
But “playing” requires financial and emotional investments.
Boyle said coaches “can’t under-schedule” to save their jobs.
To avoid a cupcake-filled non-convention schedule, in 2019 the Pac-12 implemented scheduling standards built on four pillars:
“(i) a non-conference five-year past average of opponents’ net rankings must be 175 or less,
“(ii) no participation in street purchase games,
“(iii) no regular season games against non-Division I opponents and,
“(iv) no road game versus a non-conference opponent with a five-year trailing average of 200 nets.
But a schedule light on the cupcakes doesn’t necessarily maximize your chances of success.
Too often, Pac-12 teams agree to a home-home series with schools in the mid-major conferences or one-bid leagues. When members play road games against Big Sky, Big West or West Coast Conference teams (unless it’s Gonzaga) it doesn’t bode well for the collective.
They are a lose-lose matchup within the NET algorithm: a win provides no upside, but a loss can lower your ranking and potentially drag down other teams in the conference.
“If we want to maximize NCAA bids,” Germond said, “we have to stay away from putting ourselves at risk. But it costs money.”
The going rate for home games is approximately $75,000. Due to the payment received for the distant portion, the expenditure by the domestic and domestic series is reduced to zero.
Ideally, the Pac-12 would only play road games against tournament-caliber opponents from other power conferences or mid-major leagues.
In order to collectively eliminate risky road games against Big West or WCC teams, Pac-12 schools must be willing to purchase two or three additional creampuffs (at $75,000 each).
“It takes a commitment,” Germond said.
But non-conference scheduling is complicated, even for schools willing to spend the money to mitigate risk.
Coaches don’t know their own rosters and often can’t be sure of their opponents’ personnel, which is why aiming high makes sense.
The top half and mid-majors of the Power Six will provide the best of quality competition, even if they get hit by a crash.
“It’s definitely a balancing act of how good you’re going to be and coming up with a schedule that suits your team,” Boyle said.
“For me, the league is measured by the middle tier, and more importantly, how the lower tier is in November and December.”
Last season, the bottom tier of the Pac-12 lost a bevy of high-risk, low-reward games in the early weeks. By the time conference play began in January, the net’s multiplier effect was set to work against the conference.
“As much as you can,” said Germond, “you have to play tough opponents on the road. It doesn’t hurt you, but it can help you.”
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